A graduate student said that while the one-off payments announced in the 2023 budget will be welcomed, they will not reduce the poverty trap in which people with disabilities live.
Atherine Gallagher, 25, who suffers from scoliosis, a non-progressive muscle disease, said the means-tested element of Ireland’s Disability Allowance should be revised, but she is not surprised that this has not happened in today’s announcement.
“A one-off payment will not reduce the poverty trap of people with disabilities or improve the overall quality of life; it will not have any long-term effects,” she said.
Disability pension recipients receive a one-off payment of EUR 500 in November and an additional EUR 12 per week.
“Nevertheless, any help or assistance is welcome, especially at the minute, but the poverty trap, the need debacle, is not gone yet,” Ms Gallagher said.
“It is really important to emphasize that this will not change the long-term effects.”
She added that people with disabilities face additional costs of over 9,000 euros a year, “they live constantly and always in a livelihood crisis”.
The 25-year-old is from Achill, Co. Mayo but currently resides in Dublin where she is pursuing her PhD at Dublin City University (DCU).
Last year she learned that she would lose her disability benefit if she opted for a doctoral scholarship, which is endowed with 16,000 euros per year.
After much campaigning, Social Protection Secretary Heather Humphreys signed into law a new law called “Catherine’s Law” in March last year, which means people will no longer lose their disability allowance if they accept scholarships related to doctoral fellowships.
However, Ms Gallagher said the battle was not over and there were still many issues with the Disability Allowance, including means testing, which was not revised in the 2023 Budget.
She added that disabled people have many other costs in addition to the rising cost of living.
A report published by the Department for Social Protection shows that the additional costs of having a disabled person in Ireland range from €9,000 to €16,000 per year.
“So you already have the added cost of disability on top of the cost-of-living crisis,” she said.
“Also, it’s a means-tested payment and means the first €140 a week you earn isn’t means-tested if you take a job, but everything after that.
“It also means that if you live with a partner, a romantic partner, even if you’re not married to them, their income will be taken into account for the means test.”
The PhD student said this means many disabled people don’t have to live with their partners or have to sneak around, and it can also mean that those who live with their partners in a vulnerable position have to cut their allowance.
“It begs the question, do we actually really have marriage equality?” she said.
“Being financially dependent on a partner can expose someone to being manipulated or financially coerced.
“Leaving a situation like this or trying to escape from a situation like this is incredibly difficult.
“So that means it’s something that needs serious overhaul in the long run.
“I think most if not all of the barriers to means testing need serious consideration in order to remove them.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/budget/budget-2023-a-one-off-payment-wont-reduce-the-poverty-trap-experienced-by-disabled-people-42021949.html Budget 2023: “A one-time payment will not reduce the poverty trap of people with disabilities”